Muslim woman victorious in bid to have ex-husband evicted from her home

Published Dec 13, 2023


A Muslim woman has been given the go-ahead to have her ex-husband evicted from their matrimonial home, which is registered in her name as sole owner.

The couple’s marriage broke down in 2019, prompting the wife to move out of the matrimonial home in Pinelands in July that year before they were officially divorced in 2020.

The matter was heard in the Western Cape High Court by Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo, as an appeal matter after Judge Daniel Thulare dismissed an application for the eviction of the ex-husband, in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE Act).

The central issue in the matter was the co-ownership of the property.

According to the ex-husband –who operates a hardware franchise store – there “(was) an oral agreement between the parties to the effect that the (ex-wife) is merely ‘holding’ his half share on his behalf” after they bought the property together but then sole ownership was signed to the wife to protect it from possibly being attached to debt of the ex-husband’s business.

The judgment read: “On November 9, 2021 the matter came before Thulare who, after hearing oral evidence and without in any way determining the contested question of co-ownership of the property, dismissed the application with costs. The court a quo stated rather that the issue referred to oral evidence concerned the intention of the parties when they signed the deed of sale in terms of which the appellant purchased the respondent’s half share in the property, which they had purchased jointly and was registered in both their names.”

After the divorce, the man remained in occupation of the property and continued to make the full mortgage bond repayments and the municipality account payments until November 2019, when he “started to pay half of the monthly bond repayment amounts”.

“(The woman) denied that there was an agreement between them that (the ex-husband) would retain any ownership rights in the property. She, however, admitted that what they had discussed was that if, at some point in the future, he would have recovered financially, he could buy back from her his half share in the property at market value. She denied that the sale of his half share to her was a simulated agreement or that there was an agreement between them that the ex-husband will continue to be a co-owner,” the judgment read.

The man was ordered to vacate the property by February 29, and failing to do so voluntarily, a sheriff of the court was directed to “do all things necessary so as to evict him and/or any other occupants” by March 1.

Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) attorney Charlene May said: “We welcome judgments and interventions by our courts to uphold the rights of Muslim women.

“We look forward to the introduction of the Marriages Bill into Parliament by Home Affairs because as this case illustrates, we need legal certainty on the recognition and regulation of Muslim marriages.”

Last year, WLC lauded the judgment by the Constitutional Court in which it finally provided recognition of Muslim women’s rights to equal recognition and protection in marriage, which also vindicated their rights to housing, land and property accumulated in marriage when their marriage comes to an end.

Cape Times